Friends,I beg you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong. You know that it was because of a physical infirmity that I first announced the gospel to you; though my condition put you to the test, you did not scorn or despise me, but welcomed me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. What has become of the goodwill you felt? For I testify that, had it been possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? They make much of you, but for no good purpose; they want to exclude you, so that you may make much of them. It is good to be made much of for a good purpose at all times, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, I wish I were present with you now and could change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
Paul has finally broken free of the Jewish laws that bound him to his previous life as Saul. He feels free, has become like a Gentile and now acknowledges, encourages and affirms the Galatians.
But there is a cloud of anxiety attached to these verses. He reminds them how they cared for him during his illness, but now he feels they are straying from the truth of the Gospel he shared with them, and urges them to stay strong. He cautions them to watch out for people who say they are friends, but have sinister intentions. Paul cannot understand and is frustrated why they should befriend ‘these’ people, who hold different views to his own.
When we feel passionate and enthusiastic about issues close to our heart, it can be a painful experience when other people cannot capture that vision we hold. We sometimes get frustrated like Paul, and our voices raise higher.
We must always remember that in our concerns and differences, within a variety of conversations and situations, God is the true mediator, opening our hearts and minds to the movement of the Holy Spirit which points the way the truth in Jesus Christ, Our Lord.
In the tensions and frustrations, we pray for patience; In the heated words and potential arguments; we pray tolerance. In the misunderstandings and confusion; we pray for Wisdom. Lord, the bearer of Truth and Justice liberally pour your Holy Spirt upon us, till our hearts are overflowing with your grace. Amen
The Rev’d Ruth Dillon is minister at Fleet URC and Beacon Hill Hindhead URC, Wessex Synod